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Desert Hiking: Arizona’s Valley of the Sun and Superstition Mountains

Program Number: 6117RJ
Start and End Dates:
2/9/2013 - 2/15/2013; 2/3/2015 - 2/9/2015; 2/15/2015 - 2/21/2015; 11/14/2015 - 11/20/2015;
Duration: 6 nights
Location: Phoenix, Arizona
Price starting at: $899.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Walking/Hiking; Natural History Activity Level: t (see description)
Meals: 17; 6 Breakfasts, 5 Lunches, 6 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian    

Come to the Arizona desert for some of the most dramatic and beautiful hiking country in the Southwest. On 4 1/2 days of hiking, experienced wilderness guides introduce facets of Arizona’s varied geology, unique ecology and fascinating human history while nighttime in the Superstition Mountains brings spectacular night skies for enthusiastic stargazers.




Highlights

• Hike classic Sonoran desert trails while learning to identify many cactus species and exploring basin and range topography.
• While in Phoenix, return to your hotel to relax after invigorating hikes on challenging trails in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve and on South Mountain in Phoenix.
• Journey mid-week to hike through rugged and mysterious landscapes of Salt River Canyon and the volcanic Superstition Mountains, home to the legendary Lost Dutchman Mine.



Activity Particulars

Hiking up to seven miles on trails over uneven terrain requiring agility. Some rock scrambling, a few sustained uphills. Elevation changes up to 1,200 feet. Elevations of 2,000-4,000 feet.

Come prepared to hike with proper equipment and in good physical shape through regular aerobic exercise. Hikes will be on both established trails and “off trail” routes with uneven terrain, high steps, desert vegetation and rocky areas. Hikes are usually conducted as one group with a hike leader and a sweep. See daily schedule for more detailed information.



Itinerary Summary

Arrival Phoenix, 3 nights; transfer to Apache Lake/Salt River Canyon, 3 nights; return to Scottsdale/Phoenix for airport/hotel drop offs.



Coordinated by Northern Arizona University.




Superstition Mountains

This range of mountains is a hiking paradise virtually in the backyards of Phoenix residents. Located in the federally designated Superstition Wilderness Area, the mountains are crisscrossed by numerous hiking trails. On Superstition Mountain lies Lost Dutchman State Park, named for a miner who, legend has it, discovered a mother lode in the area.



Scottsdale

An affluent city adjacent to Phoenix, Scottsdale enjoys an annual average of more than 330 days of sunshine, a factor that, along with the area’s wide-open desert landscape, makes the city a haven for golfers. Scottsdale’s vibrant nightlife and busy hotel scene are balanced out by its proximity to mountain areas popular with outdoor enthusiasts.



Phoenix

Phoenix is a thriving metropolis surrounded by majestic mountains. Along with the visual beauty of the land, the city has a rich heritage of Native American and Hispanic cultures. Native American and western expansion influences are seen in the art and architecture of Phoenix, and an abundance of museums and art galleries showcase the culture.



Accommodations
Phoenix: Midtown hotel with extensive gardens, outdoor pool and 24-hour fitness center. Apache Lake: resort with lake views.

Road Scholar Instructors
These instructors are participating on at least one date of this program. Please note that changes may occur.
Mike Young

Mike Young has lived in Arizona for 40 years, and taught math and geology at Yavapai College prior to his work with Road Scholar. To convey the Arizona landscape, Mike uses a broad range of topics including botany, natural history and geomorphology. He has worked as a commercial boatman, designed and constructed his own home, and conducted field exercises throughout the intermountain west. He is an accomplished hike leader who challenges hikers of all skill levels.
 
Richard Stephens

Rich has been director of Northern Arizona University’s highly popular Road Scholar programs since 2001. He previously spent many years in the field as a program coordinator and group leader, where he honed his skills and learned the importance of detailed, pre-trip planning. Before making his home in Arizona’s spectacular red-rock country, Rich spent 10 years in Yosemite National Park and the Santa Cruz mountains as an environmental educator.
 
Jeff Strang

Jeff Strang's knowledge of the environment stems from over 35 years of hiking, paddling, and photography in the outdoors, his extensive experience as a naturalist, as well as from his education at the University of Oregon and Lewis and Clark Law School. In 1987, Jeff filed a precedent-setting lawsuit against Oregon polluters under the Clean Water Act. Jeff has been leading Road Scholar programs since 2002. In his free time, Jeff enjoys biking to work, hiking, kayaking, outdoor photography and studying geology.
 
Meals and Lodgings
   Scottsdale Cottonwoods Resort and Suites
  Scottsdale, AZ 3 nights
   Apache Lake Resort
  Superstition Mountains 3 nights
 Scottsdale Cottonwoods Resort and Suites
Type: Four-Star Hotel
  Description: Twenty five acre resort green landscaped on the Sonora Desert at the foot of Camelback Mountain in uptown Scottsdale, AZ.
  Contact info: 6160 N Scottsdale Rd
Scottsdale, AZ 85253 USA
phone: 480-991-1414
web: www.scottsdalecottonwoods.com
  Room amenities: Plush top mattress, separate vanity area, mini refrigerator, coffee and tea station, work desk, wifi, whitewashed wood beamed ceilings, safes in every room, microwaves available in suits or upon request.
  Facility amenities: Fitness center, 2 outdoor pools, 2 outdoor whirlpool spas, tennis courts, shuffleboard, jogging, fitness and nature trails, hammocks, Borgata Shopping Center steps away.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Additional nights prior: Seasonal Rates vary widely; winter/spring is peak season with rates from $150 - $250/night.
  Check in time: 4:00 PM

 Apache Lake Resort
Type: Lodge
  Description: Beautiful remote and scenic lodging site overlooking Apache Lake in the heart of Salt River Canyon. Quick and easy access into the adjacent Superstition Mountains.
  Contact info: AZ 88 about 13 miles northeast of Tortilla Flat
Tortilla Flat, AZ 85290 USA
phone: 928-467-2511
web: www.apachelake.com
  Room amenities: air conditioning; cable TV.
  Facility amenities: Lake swimming; restaurant; full-service marina.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Additional nights after: Call for rates Call for rates and availability, Apache Lake Marina and Resort (928) 467-2511.
  Check out time: 10:00 AM


Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Sponsored by Northern Arizona University. On site program registration in the resort meeting area any time between 4:30 - 5:15 PM. You will be staying at Scottsdale Cottonwoods Resort and Suites that night.
  End of Program:
Depart program from Apache Lake Resort after breakfast with a drop off at the Phoenix Airport by 10:30 AM followed by a stop at the starting hotel. You will be staying at Apache Lake Resort the night before.
  Required documents:
The Road Scholar Health & Safety Form is required.
  Parking availability:
Parking is free at the starting hotel for the duration of the program. We will return to the starting hotel at the end of the program to pick up cars parked there.
Transportation
To Start of Program
  Location:  Scottsdale, AZ
  Nearest city or town:  Phoenix, AZ
  Nearest highway: I-10, US 60.
  Nearest airport:  Phoenix Sky Harbor International
  From End of Program
  Location:  Departures
Travel Details
 

Apache Lake Resort to Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport

 

To Airport

 
 

Service:

 

Commercial Van/Shuttle
NAU Road Scholar Vans
phone: 928-523-2359

 

Per Person/One Way:

 

Included in program costs
Prices are subject to change.

 

Travel Time:

 

2 Hours to Phoenix Airport 

 

Distance:

 

70 miles to Phoenix Airport

   

NAU Road Scholar vans depart from Apache Lake Resort after breakfast with a drop off at the Phoenix Airport by 10:30 PM followed by a stop at the starting hotel..

 

Scottsdale Cottonwoods Resort to/from Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport

 

From Airport

 
 

Service:

 

Commercial Van/Shuttle
Super Shuttle
phone: 800-258-3826
Advanced Reservations Required

 

Per Person/One Way:

 

$17
Prices are subject to change.

 

Travel Time:

 

20 minutes 

 

Distance:

 

12 miles

   

Must have prepaid reservations - by internet at www.supershuttle.com, scroll to Phoenix Sky Harbor Intl Airport, or by phone at 800-258-3826. After you claim your luggage at Sky Harbor Airport, proceed to the outer island marked “Van Service.” A uniformed SuperShuttle Guest Service Representative will arrange transportation to your destination.

 
Driving Directions
  Phoenix - Scottsdale Cottonwoods Resort from I-10 Eastbound Stay on I-10 through downtown Phoenix. Merge onto Loop 202 toward Tempe / Mesa. Take Loop 101 North toward Scottsdale. Stay on 101 North until the Indian BEND (NOT Indian School) exit and turn left. At the traffic light on Scottsdale Road, turn left and get into the right lane on Scottsdale Road. Just south of Lincoln Dr, the resort will be on your right. You will turn right onto "Rose Lane", follow it left around an immediate bend in the road, and the resort lobby and parking is on your left. Do note that you should leave your luggage in the car as once you check into the hotel and register for the program, you will then drive a short distance to park for walking access to your room.
  Phoenix - Scottsdale Cottonwoods Resort from I-10 Westbound Stay on I-10 west to the US 60 and exit east toward Mesa / Globe. Stay on US 60 east about 3 miles to Loop 101 north toward Scottsdale. Continue on Loop 101 North to Indian BEND (NOT Indian School) exit and turn left. At the traffic light on Scottsdale Road, turn left and get into the right lane on Scottsdale Road. Just south of Lincoln Dr, the resort will be on your right. You will turn right onto "Rose Lane", follow it left around an immediate bend in the road, and the resort lobby and parking is on your left. Do note that you should leave your luggage in the car as once you check into the hotel and register for the program, you will then drive a short distance to park for walking access to your room.
  Phoenix - Scottsdale Cottonwoods Resort from I-17 Southbound Take the I-17 south to the Loop 101 East exit. Continue on Loop 101 East until the Indian Bend (NOT Indian School) exit and turn right. At the traffic light on Scottsdale Road, turn left and get into the right lane on Scottsdale Road. Just south of Lincoln Road, the resort will be on your right. You will turn right onto "Rose Street", follow it left around an immediate bend in the road, and the resort lobby and parking is on your left. Do note that you should leave your luggage in the car as once you check into the hotel and register for the program, you will then drive a short distance to park for walking access to your room.
Elevation Note: Some elevations over 4,000 feet.

The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.


Daily Schedule

Day 1: Orientation and Introductions
(Saturday, February 9)
   
 Afternoon: Check into Scottsdale Cottonwoods Resort after 3:00 PM. On site program registration between 4:30 - 5:15 PM.
 Dinner: Dinner will be at the Cottonwoods Resort. Entrees will vary nightly and include a vegetarian option. Entree examples include: Chicken w/Provencial Herbs; Stuffed Jumbo Pasta Shells; Creole Cornbread Catfish Filets; Shaved Italian beef w/au jus on Sourdough. Entrees include soup or salad, steamed seasonal vegetables, assorted rolls & butter, light desert, and a non-alcoholic beverage.
 Evening: Introductions and orientation in the Resort meeting room following dinner.
   
Accommodations: Scottsdale Cottonwoods Resort and Suites
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Hiking in Arizona's Sonoran Desert in Phoenix's South Mountain Park/ Preserve.
(Sunday, February 10)

Note: Hike about 7 miles and 1000 vertical feet.



   
 Breakfast: Enjoy a continental breakfast at the resort, which varies daily and could include: scrambled eggs, bacon burritos, croissant sandwich, whole fruit, whole grain breads, oatmeal, coffee,tea and juice.
 Morning: Hike in Phoenix's South Mountain Park/Preserve. At 16000 acres, it is the largest Municipal park in the country, and has over 51 miles of trails. Our first hike will serve as an introduction to the rich and diverse Sonoran Desert. Your naturalist guide will interpret the often iconic plant species including the saguaro cacti, barrel cacti, mesquite, creosote and ocotillos. Animal sightings (if luck is on our side) may include Lizards, beetles, songbirds, desert bighorn sheep, desert tortoise, coyote, fox, desert night lizards, Gilbert's skinks, golden eagles, and several species of hawks.
 Lunch: Sack lunches along the trail.
 Afternoon: Continue hiking in Phoenix's South Mountain Park/Preserve.
 Dinner: Dinner will be at the Cottonwoods Resort. Entrees will vary nightly and include a vegetarian option. Entree examples include: Chicken w/Provencial Herbs; Stuffed Jumbo Pasta Shells; Creole Cornbread Catfish Filets; Shaved Italian beef w/au jus on Sourdough. Entrees include soup or salad, steamed seasonal vegetables, assorted rolls & butter, light desert, and a non-alcoholic beverage.
 Evening: Evening program on the Geology, Human History or Natural History of the Superstition Mountains and the surrounding area.
   
Accommodations: Scottsdale Cottonwoods Resort and Suites
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Hike in Scottsdale's Mcdowell Sonoran Preserve.
(Monday, February 11)

Note: The Bell Pass Trail climbs about 1500 feet for a round trip hike of about 7 miles.



   
 Breakfast: Wake up to a hearty breakfast buffet.
 Morning: Each day's destination is dependent on the current weather and/or road conditions and may change to other days of the week or alternative destinations. Typical hiking distances are 4-8 miles with 600-1500 feet of elevation change. Depart after breakfast for day's hike in Scottsdale's McDowell Sonoran Preserve on the northwest edge of the metropolitan area. This 17000 acres in the McDowell Mountains is pristine Sonoran Desert. The Bell Pass Trail climbs about 1500 feet for a round trip hike of about 7 miles.
 Lunch: Sack lunches along the trail.
 Afternoon: Continue hike, returning to Scottsdale Cottonwood Resortin the afternoon.
 Dinner: Dinner will be at the Cottonwoods Resort. Entrees will vary nightly and include a vegetarian option. Entree examples include: Chicken w/Provencial Herbs; Stuffed Jumbo Pasta Shells; Creole Cornbread Catfish Filets; Shaved Italian beef w/au jus on Sourdough. Entrees include soup or salad, steamed seasonal vegetables, assorted rolls & butter, light desert, and a non-alcoholic beverage.
 Evening: Enjoy a free evening.
   
Accommodations: Scottsdale Cottonwoods Resort and Suites
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Hike up Iconic Camelback Mountain in central Scottsdale, then travel to the Superstition Mountains.
(Tuesday, February 12)

Note: Hike up 1200 feet and 3 miles round trip.



   
 Breakfast: Wake up to a hearty breakfast buffet.
 Morning: Immediately after breakfast, we'll go for a short but steep hike up Central Camelback Mountain. From the Cholla Trailhead hike up 1200 feet and 3 miles RT for spectacular views of the area. We then return to the Resort and check out of our rooms.
 Lunch: Lunch at the Scottsdale Cottonwoods resort, followed by departure to Apache Lake.
 Afternoon: Depart for the Apache Lake Resort for afternoon check-in hotel for check-in.
 Dinner: Dinner at Apache Lake Resort.
 Evening: Evening program on the Sonoran Desert, or another program of interest.
   
Accommodations: Apache Lake Resort
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Hiking in the High Sonoran Desert in the Fabled Superstition Mountains
(Wednesday, February 13)

Note: Hike about 5.5 miles and 700 feet.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at Apache Lake Resort..
 Morning: Depart after breakfast for today's hike on the Boulder Canyon Trail,We'll hike about 5.5 miles and 700 feet to a spectacular view of Boulder Canyon; or another hike scheduled according to weather and road conditions.
 Lunch: Sack lunches along the trail.
 Afternoon: Continue hike, returning to hotel in mid to late afternoon.
 Dinner: Dinner at Apache Lake Resort.
 Evening: Evening program on desert wildlife, or another program of interest.
   
Accommodations: Apache Lake Resort
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Hiking in the Superstition Mountains
(Thursday, February 14)

Note: Hike 9 miles and 1000 vertical feet.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at Apache Lake Resort.
 Morning: Depart after breakfast for another all day hike: Today's hike starts with a spectacular view above Apache Lake, It begins its ascent on a moderately graded former road bed through grassy rolling hills towards Castle Dome. The trail is mostly smooth but an occasional Rocky section keeps you on your toes. Turning around at the shoulder of Castle Dome is an easy 9 miles and 1000 vertical feet.
 Lunch: Sack lunches along the trail.
 Afternoon: Continue hike, returning to hotel in mid to late afternoon.
 Dinner: Dinner at Apache Lake Resort.
 Evening: Program wrap-up and farewells.
   
Accommodations: Apache Lake Resort
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Program Farewells
(Friday, February 15)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the Apache Lake Resort.
 Morning: NAU Road Scholar vans depart from Apache Lake Resort after breakfast with a drop off at the Phoenix Airport by 10:30 AM followed by a stop at the starting hotel.
   
Meals Included: Breakfast
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List


A Natural History of the Sonoran Desert


Author: Patricia Wentworth Comus (Editor)


Description: "Once in a generation, a guide to understanding a major North American landscape comes along. This book is such a touchstone, sure to become a classic. The emphasis here is on biodiversity, mutualism, co-evolution, and, especially, ethno-relationships—the long history of connection between desert peoples and their homeland, on both sides of the border.



Arizona: A Cavalcade of History


Author: Trimble, Marshall


Description: Arizona: A Cavalcade of History takes readers on an epic journey that includes the Paleo Indians of prehistoric Arizona, the spirited pioneers of the Arizona territory, the politics of pre- and post- Arizona statehood, and everything in between. Trimble writes with an impressive knowledge of his subject and a witty, intelligent, and entertaining style. 80 black-and-white photographs, maps. 368pp



Beyond the Hundredth Meridian: John Wesley Powell and the Second Opening of the West


Author: Stegner, Wallace


Description: Here Wallace Stegner, a Pulitzer Prize-winner, gives us a thrilling account of Powell's struggle against western geography and Washington politics. We witness the successes and frustrations of Powell's distinguished career, and appreciate his unparalleled understanding of the West. "Stegner's most exciting work." (San Francisco Chronicle) 496pp



Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water


Author: Reisner, Marc


Description: The story of the American West is the story of a relentless quest for a precious resource: water. It is a tale of rivers diverted and dammed, of political corruption and intrigue, of billion-dollar battles over water rights, of ecologic and economic disaster. In Cadillac Desert Marc Reisner writes of the earliest settlers, lured by the promise of paradise, and of the ruthless tactics employed by Los Angeles politicians and business interests to ensure the city's growth. Cadillac Desert is a stunning expose and a dramatic, intriguing history of the creation of an Eden--and Eden that may be only a mirage. 608pp



The Southwest


Author: Lavender, David


Description: A historical and cultural overview, including discussions of present-day racial, conservation, and economic problems. Easy reading, fascinating history. 364pp





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